Tuesday, April 07, 2009

On branding a region of Panama

Last year, I was contacted by my buddy José Goldner to help him and a group of fellow landowners in Panama's Azuero Peninsula to brand the area. The value per square meter of this virgin Pacific shoreline had skyrocketed in recent years (and continues to do so), and it was their intention to craft a brand framework and control the voice of the area now, before the throngs of internationals, primarily Americans, come down and do it their way. Clearly, the time to build a world-class destination brand was yesterday.
Pedasí is a fishing village on the Pacific Coast of the Azuero Peninsula.

Outside of being a long-time friend of mine, José is also an incredibly accomplished businessman whose success is a testament to his work ethic and wealth of knowledge of the digital marketing space, travel, hospitality, multiple business verticals, local politics, even the fishing industry. Additionally, he's a partner in the country's largest content-based travel and business portal, panamabusinessandtravel.com, which boasts over 5,000 pages-and-growing of content.

What an amazing opportunity, I thought. Naturally, I jumped on board and began generating a framework immediately. In this case, undeveloped land equaled an undeveloped brand, and it was my job build responsibly and deliberately.
Despite the global economic downturn, attention from around the world toward this small isthmus nation — which is more associated with its famous canal than the charming people and stunning beauty — has shown no signs of slowing. With square kilometer after kilometer of untouched beachfront and inland property available at prices long since unseen by most investors, Azuero has officially achieved “land rush” status.

Last June I toured the area with José, beyond being blown away by the magnificence of its verdant expanses rolling toward untouched beaches, I was finally able to grasp just how special this place and this opportunity truly were.

I knew what I had to do. As I conveyed in the press release:

“It’s my sole intention to make Azuero’s image synonymous with bespoke luxury, privacy, authenticity, old world quality, and ecological responsibility,” Susi said. “We have something really special here — not just some of the most beautiful land and natural resources in the world, but a chance to control the voice from the start, to magnify its appeal for visitors and investors alike, and to lay the foundation of success early on.”

Susi plans to achieve this by aligning all marketing efforts to the area’s unique character and distinguish it from all other travel and investment destinations.

“For Azuero to reach its full potential, it will be crucial to administer this distinct brand in partnership with the hospitality- and real estate-based businesses in the area, as well as other stakeholders like economic development agencies and, of course, the media. Every business in Azuero has to see every other business not as a competitor, but as a partner in the brand and its progress. That’s how destinations like Monte Carlo, Dubai, and even Guanacaste have done it through the years, and that’s what I intend to catalyze in Azuero.”

Since finishing the brand manual in December and launching an online media campaign in early January — including a new website I built to create awareness for one small beachfront portion of the Azuero Peninsula, a town called Pedasí — our efforts are bearing fruit, both online and off.

José is now a principal in a new real estate fund built in conjunction with Briggs Capital in Boston, MA, which is dedicated to building a land bank offering shareholders maximum return on their investments, with land that's been increasing in value steadily for the past five years. And despite the slow economy, the area has seen a massive surge in investors — and not just visiting prospects, but buyers.

I'm heading back down in a few weeks, and I cannot wait to see the change in the land and the growth of this living, breathing brand.

Oh, and if you'd like to take part in an amazing real estate investment with low-to-negligible taxes for investors in the fastest-growing economy in South and Central America the past three years, leave a comment below and I'll be happy to point you to the appropriate parties — or visit pedasipeninsula.com/contact to submit a form for an instant response.